He’s been called the “granddaddy of the modern spy novel” and he’s spent 50 years mastering his genre always in search of what he calls “the big truth.” At 81, John le Carre’ has just released Our Kind of Traitor — his 22nd novel — to rave reviews. Wow!
Advance reviewers are saying that this newest work compares with le Carre’s best and that it’s head-and-shoulders above some of his more recent books. A New York Times reviewer called it his most “thrilling thriller in years.” The characters he’s created are three-dimensional and have emotional heft — apparently le Carre’ is getting better with age. Or at least, he’s reinventing himself and rediscovering some of the writing strengths that made The Spy Who Came in from the Cold such a huge bestseller
Our Kind of Traitor is really making waves and so is Carre’, though he’s a reclusive fellow and feels that too much social activity might have a negative impact on his writing — something he’s seen happen to other talented authors.
Even so, here and there, he’s given some hints about his writing habits and views. Here are a few choice nuggets you can ponder:
“I hate the telephone. I can’t type. I ply my trade by hand. I live on a Cornish cliff and hate cities. Three days and nights in a city are about my maximum. I don’t see many people. I write and walk and swim and drink.”
“A good writer is an expert on nothing except himself. And on that subject, if he is wise, he holds his tongue… nothing that I write is authentic. It is the stuff of dreams, not reality. Yet I am treated by the media as though I wrote espionage handbooks.”
“And to a point I am flattered that my fabulations are taken so seriously. Yet I also despise myself in the fake role of guru, since it bears no relation to who I am or what I do. Artists, in my experience, have very little centre. They fake. They are not the real thing. They are spies. I am no exception.”
Fabulations — fabulous word! Artists as spies — now that’s intriguing!